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Polio case stirs controversy

September 12, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Sept 12: The detection of a polio effected child case created a tussle between Punjab government and Federal Administrative Tribal Area (Fata) Administration as both passed the buck on to each other. Punjab Health Department representative and Medical Officer, Extended Polio Immunisation (EPI) Dr Waqar Ahmed recorded the statement of Shamsul Haq, the father of Sanaullah: three- year-old child from Bajur.

“The father of the polio affected child stated that he went to Bajur Agency before Ramazan,” said Dr Zafar Iqbal Gondal, Executive District Officer Health, while talking to Dawn.

He said that the provincial government had sent Dr Waqar to record the statement of the affected child’s father to investigate whether he conceived polio virus from Rawalpindi or Bajur. He said that the provincial government’s representative called Shamsul Haq and invited Rawalpindi to record his statement.

He said that the statement had given a clean chit to the district health department and Fata health services department should own the case despite passing the responsibility to Punjab or Rawalpindi.

National Institute of Health (NIH) on Tuesday confirmed polio case of Sanaullah, son of Shamsul Haq, resident of Mandi Morr, Rawalpindi.

However, the provincial health department and district administration passed the buck on to Fata administration.

“You can check the dispatch number of the sample for the acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) test of Sanaullah and it was issued by the Bajur Agency.

The dispatch number of the sample was issued by the district from where the child came from and according to WHO standards, dispatched number will not be issued by the district where the child came,” said Dr Zafar Iqbal Gondal.

He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was also conducting separate investigations and it would bring all the facts and figures before the media soon.

“We admitted that the area where the child came from was high risk area but we had administered anti-polio vaccination to all the children,” he said.

“The health department and WHO tested the sewer of the garrison city and found no polio virus for June and July. However, the test report of the sewer was pending with NIH and it would send report next week,” he said.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar and District Health Officer Dr Khalid Randhawa visited the area to investigate the matter.

“I met with the landlord of the house where Shamasul Haq resided. The owner of the house, Haji Yaqoob, told me that Sanaullah’s uncle is his tenant and the child came with his family and went back to Bajur Agency before Ramazan,” he said.

He said that he checked more than 100 children in the area and found finger marks of polio vaccination. He said that the statement of the father of the child held many truths. When contacted, Fata Director Health Services Dr Fawad Khan told Dawn on telephone that the child was born in Rawalpindi and came with polio virus.

“The Punjab authorities should accept the responsibility,” he said.

He said that the Fata administration would accept the responsibility, if the child conceived virus from the area.

“We had already accepted all the cases and there is no need to hide the facts in this modern era,” he said.

“We will also call the meeting of the area elites and the family of the victim. The Punjab authority wanted to hide their negligence and they are trying to pressurise the labourers,” he said.